By CHRIS WALTERSKIRCHEN
When the South Dakota State Jackrabbits come to town you know something exciting is going to happen. In 1969 the Griz capped off a perfect regular season with a 58-0 pounding of SDSU. In 1993 The Griz spotted the Jackrabbits a 31 point lead and then set an NCAA record for the greatest comeback to win a football game. In 2009, six yeas ago saturday the Griz staged the greatest ccomeback in FCS play-off history. Trailing by 27 the Griz roared back to score 40 consecutive and win going away.
This is the 12th post-season match-up with a team from the Missouri Valley football Conference. The Griz are6-5 against Valley teams most recently in the 2011 quarterfinals when they pounded Northern Iowa.
It is said ” defense wins championships” and that is very apparent in the Big sky this year as the play-off bound Griz, PSU Vikings, and Southern Utah finished 1-2-3 in several dfensive categories like scoring defense, pass defense, and red zone defense. Once again Griz Tyrone Holmes and Keenan Van Ackerken lead in tackles, sacks and yards lost on sacks.
Among the play-off bound recivers Jamal Jones is tops in both receptions per game and yards per game.
Dan sullivan leads in the Big Sky in scoring by kicks and total field goals.
Each of the last seasons South Dakota State has won on the road in the opening only to fall in the second round. Last November the Jacks won a shootout in Bozeman but a week later felt the wrath of North Dakota State
A deceptive stat: Brady Gustafson has had a great season when he has been healthy but he did not play enough to qualify in most Big Sky stat categories.
Once again the Lady Griz head on the road over Thanksgiving. Last year it was Mexico, this week its Betheham, PA. The Lehigh Mountain Hawks are the first round foe of Montana. Not only has Montana not played the Mountain Hawks, they have just play 2 games against the rest of that league over the years.
The Ladies may face a team of Dragons on sunday as Drexel and their fire-spouting Mascot could be UM’s opponent in the second round.
Montana has faced Villanova before as the Wildcats beat Montana a few years back in the UNLV Classic.
A note on former UM football coach Bobby Huack. Huack’s San Deigo State special teams are ranked fourth in the FBS in special teams efficiency.
Chris Walterskirchen has been an observer of Montana sports for nearly half a century. A Kalispell native, Chris has worked in various capacities for professional and college sports organization of at various times: ranging from announcing and statistical work to the concessions and even a stint as a costumed mascot.
Chris has academic degrees in communications and elementary education. His style of sports trivia involves more than just who won and who lost, but also focuses on the obscure or human side of sports. In this blog you will learn things like the Grizzly football team has won 210 games over the 19 seasons since they have had Monte as their mascot or that UNLV is the only school that both the Griz and Lady Griz have both faced in the NCAA basketball tournament
When not following sports Chris enjoys taking care of animals of all kinds (a peacock rescue?) and reading to pre-schoolers.